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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Blame it on the Simpsons

Categories: s1 and s2

A post for s1 and s2 tonight. We are studying Brazil at present with s1, and I have previously said that I would be keen to use the 'Blame it on Lisa' episode of the Simpsons, where the family visit Rio. The reason that I am interested in using this is that the episode created such a storm of controversy in Rio itself that the City authorities threatened to sue FOX, the makers of The Simpsons( see here ).The reasob for this was that the epsiode did not represent Rio in a good light, and relied on stereotypes. We also held some stereotypes to be true, so I want to use this episode as an exercise to seperate truths from myths. Fortunately, one of my s1 boys has the episode, and is bringing it in tomorrow. For my other s1 class, we will be finding out more about population in Brazil.
s2 are taking the period tomorrow for the Earth Forces Assessment, and I have set up a peer assessment actvity for the Food Miles project, details of which I'll post later.

Population Chaos

Categories: Population, Geography General, Atmosphere
I really liked the cartoon above, which I think shows quite well the impact that a rapidly growing population can have on a country's development, and perhaps illustrates to s3 why China had to take the drastic measures that we were talking about on Tuesday. I was searching for some resources to use with you to illustrate population change over time, and also introduce the idea of a population pyramid, and I found this excellent website . Have a look at Western Europe and see the population drop off the radar! We might follow this up with some video, looking at Italy's changing population structure, if not tomorrow then Monday.
s4 revision continues, I know the prelims are taking their tolls, but keep up the good work. First presentations the other day were good, but need to move a little faster-possibly my fault for not putting a strict time on the presentation task.
One of my Higher class have asked to see the type of questions likely to be asked in the Atmosphere section of the course so that this can be linked to the areas of work covered so far, so will probably do this at the start of the period, followed by some kind of refresher on Air Masses and the movement of the ITCZ. I was pleased when one member of the class told me at supported study that Rural Land Resources has all suddenly fallen into place for him, and I think Atmosphere is quite similar-there seems to be an overwhelming amount of information (and most of it scientific) to take in, and when doing the unit things can seem lost in a bit of a fog, but once you've had time to digest the topic, I'm sure things will seem a lot clearer.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Categories : Atmosphere, s1 and s2
Today, we had a look at what happens to the Trade Winds with the seasonal shifting of the sun's position. I wanted to get this in before we started looking at the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone in detail during tomorrow's double lesson. The above link, with a little navigation, takes you to a page where you can monitor the position of the ITCZ, but it seems to have last been updated towards the end of last year. I have found this link instead, which allows us to compare areas and look at seasonal rainfall patterns, one of the things that we have to understand for the exam. I will use a very basic powerpoint which I have at school which gives some detail on Air Masses. Maybe use the OHP tomorrow, as I've used this in the last two years to show the movement of the air masses-I felt it worked better than using the whiteboard. Lastly, why are the doldrums so called? See the answer here.
Tomorrow, I would like to see something on every page of the Food Miles Project. I have some ideas for developing the page, which I'll share tomorrow, but we're getting there. I also liked a link posted on the sln forum about Chelsea Tractors, in some way linked to some of the environmental issues we have covered in this study. Have a Play...
Supported Study tomorrow on Glaciation (particularly deposition) and Coasts (a response to a question put onto the wiki ).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Following Che...

Categories: Geography General, Writing and Assessment, Population, s1 and s2
Well, not really, but I have been playing around with this idea for two years now. I sometimes think that when some students have worked really hard and finished all of the assignments in class, their reward is more work. To this end, I have thought of assembling a small library in my room with an assortment of books from novels to personal accounts, all of which have fantastic examples of Geography in them. The idea is that pupils will be expanding their geographical knowledge, while hopefully enjoying the different medium. For upper school, I have lots of books such as 'The Motorcycle Diaries' following Che Guevara and his friend across South America, lots of Kerouac, and some excellent travel writing by less famed individuals, and I have loads of documentary style books-Palin, Planet Earth, Geldof etc, as well as some weightier tomes with more theory etc. Accounts of people's road trips and so on have often inspired me to find out more about certain places and different cultures, and hopefully will inspire others to do the same.
I was pleasantly surprised by the input from my s4 to today's revision task-lots of good ideas for topic revision involving other members of the class (labelling exercises, building mind maps through class collaboration, malaria quizzes and so on). I should say, for the record, that I am not questioning the effort or previous originality of this class, which has always been superb,but to get this kind of response after the Maths prelim... Well done! Tomorrow, I'm going to let you dish out topic past papers after you're presentations to the pair of your choice...just to keep people on their toes!

Higher and s3 have textbook work tomorrow, I'm afraid. We spent most of the period talking about circulation cells and surface winds, and brought in the idea of convergence/divergence zones, which we'll come back to. I also have all of the notes photocopied now.
s1 are looking for assessment results, and I am looking for a copy of the Simpsons in Rio! In the meantime, will finish the mapping and do a little background work on Brazil's geography-a huge and very diverse country, hopefully challenging some of the assumptions about climate, relief etc from our opening exercise.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not quite Stonehenge...

Categories: Atmosphere, Population, Writing and Assessment, s1 and s2
...but this webcam image hopefully helps illustrate some of what I was talking about in Higher class on Friday. The picture was taken at a Weather station at the South Pole, and as you can see, although its around 9pm, it's still light. We were discussing solstices and equinoxes, and trying to put this in the context of why some areas of the planet have an energy surplus and some a deficit. The image was from one of the many excellent webcams available from Earthcam, strangely being blocked by the school filter (not previously..). I am requesting the URL is unblocked for use in class, but have a browse yourself. Some of the urban cams are great. Back to topic, here's a good animation which shows the 'shifting' equator quite nicely. Now someone asked me in class why the deserts were hotter than the equatorial regions, where the sun was more likely to be overhead. Tomorrow's lesson will look at how the earth moves air around to redistribute some of the sun's energy, and this should help us answer the question.
Prelims are just around the corner, so tomorrow, I am taking s4 through some revision work, where I think I will look for a bit of peer teaching. I am going to split the class up into pairs, break up the course, and ask the pairs to present something to the class by the end of the period. It could be a mindmap, a couple of slides, how you would answer a past paper on this topic, a class question and answer session, where you take the role normally given to me, including answering any queries. It's really up to you, but I am going to put one condition on the task-that you set some meaningful revision type activity that members of the class can do as follow up at home.
I want to move s2 along with the food miles project, but a reminder that your earth forces assessment will be due, and there is some really good suggested revision, including games here. I am also wondering whether it would be feasible to have some kind of supermarket sweep on fair trade products, organic etc for the project, but I'm just thinking out loud here...
If I can get the computer room for s3, we can follow up jelly babies with an online population change activity, and if not, some follow up in the textbook, but also maybe a class audio activity to assess the usefulness of the previous day's game.
Finally, s1 are mapping Brazil after a really good and interactive discussion on perceptions, stereotypes etc. I have discovered that apparently Brazilian women are manly, that I shouldn't get in a taxi in Rio and that Sao Paulo is the biggest city...what's true and what's false?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jelly Babies

Categories: Population, s1 and s2
I have told my s3 that we are playing the jelly babies game today, for which we will need the game cards . Full details here at Geointeractive. I played this last year with the current s4, and have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable lessons of the session, subsequent dental bills aside :-) Very effective introduction to Population Change. I also have yet to involve s3 in my food miles project survey, where some s2 groups are ready to commit information to the wiki page, while two groups have already added some stats, which will no doubt change. The world map is just about ready, and I think tomorrow, we will be able to start building our display. Quite by accident, as I was looking for something else, I found this page on Food Miles from the GeographyPages site, which might be useful to help build the mini topic. Assessment for the previous topic, Earth Forces will be either Monday or Wednesday. My second s1 assessment is tomorrow, while the group who sat their assessment last day are beginning the Brazil topic. I'm going to try a little music again for this for a little brainstorming exercise. Think that's it...better get some sleep now for Thursday's onslaught...

The Sun Beats Down...

Categories: Atmosphere, Environmental Hazards
One post for s4/5/6 today, and one for s1-3. Starting atmosphere with Higher tomorrow, an area of the course which often creates a little panic, as it is something which Intermediate does not really delve into. I like to try to make this part of the course quite interactive, time permitting, and tomorrow, we will be looking at something called the Global Heat Budget. I will be using a familiar technique with this class, mapping from memory in groups, and then asking the groups to elaborate on what the group diagram is telling us. I normally end up brandishing a torch in a darkened room when we follow this up by talking about solar insolation. Notes will be forthcoming soon, but I'm afraid I have been slow off the mark with the photocopying, so will rely on lesson notes and textbook for the moment. We were also trying to record supported study tonight for Rural Geography, as several of you have a clash with Biology,but hit a technical hitch (didn't hit a button!). However, I recorded my own notes as I went along, so the usual suspects can pick up the brief.
s4 are doing plate tectonics, moving on to volcanoes. Loads of links here. There is a decent interactive website run by the BBC, some suitable material, some pitched a wee bit low. Lots of excellent material on the Geobytes blog , some very good animations here and here. For earth's structure, some very simple, but nevertheless useful diagrams for a refresher on the earth's structure. I also thought if we had enough time during the lesson, we could look at different plate boundaries/hotspots of volcanic activity and match the eruption from this video page.
Don't forget to get revising for the prelim. I am assuming that you are all doing superbly well as the low turnout at supported study suggests that you are all coasting :-0 Remember to hand in any past papers/request questions.

Monday, January 22, 2007

NABs now marked!

Categories: Rural, Environmental Hazards, Population, s1 and s2
One more period on shifting cultivation (fingers crossed), would maybe have liked to have spent a little longer on this, I am sure I have video of Ray Mears and Ewan McGregor both spending some time in the Amazon, and it would have been nice to break this up with a little bit more video showing life among the tribes/survival in this environment. However, needs must...
I am going to adapt the 'find someone who...' exercise for s4, who have some previous knowledge of Plate tectonics, Volcanoes and Earthquakes (but not much of Tropical Storms). I tried an exercise today to introduce the idea of 'what is a hazard?'. Not sure it was a great success, partly because I perhaps made the statements a little too unrealistic, and partly because one of the girls in the class had read the definition of a hazard and accidentally shared this with the class!
I will be giving the s3 NABs back tomorrow, very encouraging first results and I am pleased that some people have really responded to the one to ones I had with you all last week regarding progress-some evidence of good study, well done. We started population today using the population clock and the video starter. Forgot to take the clock reading at the end of the period so will take it tomorrow and see how the population has changed. We then did a lot of work around a short video clip, a world map and some post-its on population distribution, as well as migration. Will pick up here tomorrow.
One of my s1 are being assessed tomorrow, but the other is doing a little climate change mystery after questions related to the North Atlantic Drift mentioned previously. The food miles project started today with s2, and lots of very good work on this-GM crops etc have come up in our discussions, and lots of internet research and re-organising in word today. Will try to book ICT for Wednesday again to progress with this, and may try to create a finishing movie for this using chromakey and starring...you! I had a look at Ulead on Friday and it looks really user-friendly. One tip I have been given is not to use a pale background-one s6 boy with fair skin ended up blending in with the background, meaning all that could be seen was his uniform and hair! Ghostly presences aside, we'll get some of our information on to the wiki on Wednesday

Sunday, January 21, 2007

...now, Food Miles Project

Categories: s1 and s2, Geography General
OK, we started a little project the other day, and I wasn't one hundred percent sure of what we were going to do with the results, but have decided to add a few categories here on the s2 wiki page. I am quite willing for more or alternative categories to be added. The school's eco group have taken an interest in the project as they apparently need to do something class based for some accreditation that they are looking for, and I thought that this might count as some kind of evidence for them if documented in this way. I am going to split the class into groups and this will very much be research-based work. Please make sure that any work you are preparing, do it in word first, and let me have little look at it-then its just a case of copy and paste, and saves us realising there is something missing or an error after we've published it.When researching, it might be worth just typing 'food miles' into a search engine first, as there is loads of good information available on the web for this topic. I will also have a couple of artistic individuals working on the world map, and, failing that, I'll show you an easy trick for drawing large maps. This will give you a great opportunity to do things that you will be required to do later in your time at school-Looking for bias in sources, presenting alternative viewpoints and evaluating the usefulness of source material etc. However, the best things about this are that the project relies on you working as a team, and really showcases your work. I have been very impressed with my s2 class this year, and this is another chance for you to really shine, so let's go for it.Incidentally, the fridge in the picture is not mine, far too full this close to payday... ;-)

First, tomorrow's lessons...

Categories: s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards, Population, Rural
Will post about s2 in a moment, but here's the agenda for Monday. We did most of the preparation regarding Shifting Cultivation on Friday, and find ourselves in a 'doing the neccessary work' situation. Not scintillating for you, I understand, but hopefully Friday helped us get a start on this topic. Will be reviewing the NABs for s3 and s4 tomorrow, before starting population with s3, using my Movie Starter , and Environmental Hazards with s4, where I think I'll stick up a list of statements on the board as a Hazard or not type starter (maybe use photos?). S1 will be more or less duplicating the other class's work from Friday, with a focus on the assessment (Tuesday). Now for s2....

Friday, January 19, 2007

Roadkill Chef and other stories

Categories: Geography General, Rural, Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2
I was watching a programme the other night about Fergus Drennan . The basic idea behind this was that Fergus, a chef, thinks that people should be eating more locally sourced produce, things that they can gather themselves, or 'forage' for. At the extreme end of this were such roadkill delicacies as Badger and squirrel (apparently tastes like lamb). While I don't see myself indulging in a rare bit of roast hedgehog or anything similar in the near future, I have used this as a talking point with some of my classes about food miles. As such, I have nearly all of my classes doing a one night food survey to see where their meals or snacks came from. From just one class's results so far, Scotland is third behind Europe and Rest of UK, with Ghana, Brazil, China and India all making appearances. I am hoping to form a group project from the bones of this with s2, as I can see loads of Geography in it. Haven't quite got all of this sorted in my head yet, but groups could be using Google Earth to work out the distance travelled, some groups could talk about environmental impacts (global/local), there is scope for fair trade (The Ghanaian product was chocolate), Different forms of agriculture, Country profiling, Campaigning etc and I would ideally like this to be centred around a large world map display to raise awareness of place. Any ideas from students or colleagues would be greatly appreciated.
Higher NABs went extremely well, two down, one to go, but I must stress again that we need to work a little faster :-(. Today its shifting cultivation. I'll probably use ten minute clip from a DVD, some images on the whiteboard and some old fashioned chalk to discuss the farming system and landscape. I am running a little thin on the ground with s1 at the minute, as I don't really want to start the Brazil topic until we have completed the weather assessment (Tuesday and Thursday). I gave my classes a 'Planning an evacuation' exercise today, but I don't think ipod's, laptops, TV's, DVD's and so on would fit in the suitcase! We somehow got on to talking again about the North Atlantic Drift, and then how this could eventually be stopped or slowed by melting polar ice. There is nothing better to grab the attention than a disaster story-I think half of the class think the world is going to end in about fifty years now... Tomorrow, we'll do a little work on Katrina, which will take us up to the assessment. I'll post at the weekend about how my Ulead tutorial goes...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Memo to me...

Categories: Rural, Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2
Alright, short post, kind of a reminder to myself really. Today, we talked about the Green Revolution in the Higher class, ran through a powerpoint. We will hopefully finish this tomorrow after the Environmental Interactions NAB. I sat with s3 and we did a little target setting, while s1 are well into their work on Hurricanes.
Tomorrow, with s2, I want to try to finish the work on Volcanoes. This rounds off the Earth Forces unit, but there are some areas that I believe can still be developed. I thought a nice way of assessing your understanding (before the written assessment!) would be to do a 'find someone who...' activity, where you have to find a different person in the class to answer each question on your sheet. I also liked this Thinking About Volcanoes exercise, from Geointeractive, which I might try beforehand.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tracking Hurricanes and Star Wars technology

The closest I could get to a Hurricane and Star wars!

Categories: Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2, Rural
As mentioned yesterday, loads of revision at the minute, but this link which allows you to track hurricanes in Google Earth will be useful tomorrow, and also with s4 in the near future. Thanks to Google Earth Blog. I used Earth Browser today with s1, but as its only a demo version, the information is not up to date. I also liked this game from a really good games resource for Geography.
I went to a course about Pinnacle tonight. I know people have used this with chromakey which allows them to film against a blank background and then put footage behind it a la Star Wars. The course itself was fine, but I was quite disappointed that it did not cover this aspect of the software, and also found out that the school's operating system (Windows 2000) does not cater for the newest version. I had a chat with the ICT Principal beforehand, and he has suggested using ULead. He has offered a little help with this, and I would love to use it. I can see my s4 doing Volcanoes, walking into a movie shot with a smouldering volcano just pre-eruption in the background, while my s2 could be crouching down to look at the rainforest floor as they explain the finer points about the forest ecosystem... Unfortunately, I have already had to discount the use of lightsabers, but I still think it will make learning topics much more engaging :-)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Intensive Peasant Farming Landscape

Speed Farming

Categories: Rural, Writing and Assessment
I have forewarned the Higher that we need to work at pace through the Rural unit, already working on Agriculture as a system and will start looking at the first of our three case studies, Intensive Peasant farming, a system found primarily in Southern Asia. We have some experience of this already-the landscape will be familiar from some of the images in the Malaria video, and we will need to be able to identify the features of this landscape. A popular question in the exam asks you to 'describe and account for the main features of the ( insert type of agriculture )farming landscape. When I was browsing the Bitesize website recently, a student had sent in a request for help in relation to Intensive Peasant farming-Here is the response that he received. I am also going to post a link to an image above for a great photo to use for labelling. We also have some experience of changes to the farming system from when we very briefly looked at the role of the Green revolution in the development of NIC's and its absence in sub-Saharan Africa. There is more again on Bitesize which will be useful for you.
With s3 and s4 tomorrow, we are really hard at revision. I want to share a few different ways to revise with you, as not everyone responds to just reading over notes all the time. I'll tell you about learning styles, and this may help you plan your own revision. We might do pass or play or taboo with s3, but also some past paper work. s4 are finishing the last of the Heart Disease section tomorrow, I think this might be the Hooked on Smoking advert you were telling me about the other day. Not much time for in-class revision here, so its important you are revising at home. Remember, any questions, come and see me lunch or interval and there is also supported study with Miss Green on Wednesday after school. One of my s1 classes have shared their poems with the class on weather, and I have another batch tomorrow to hear. We will also do a little work on climate graphs and then straight on to Hurricanes, which although it probably feels like it, are not hitting the West of Scotland this weekend...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Montserrat: The Aftermath!

Categories: Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2, Development and Health
What a fantastic lesson this is! I actually felt that once the lesson had been introduced, the students carried the lesson along themselves. I always see a really competitive streak come out in my classes whenever you suggest some kind of ranking, and points were being pleaded for even for the completion of the hazard map. I will definitely use this more often, thanks again, Noel.
Other happenings over the last day or so (internet down..again!), my s1 are doing some Weather poems, must be at least 8 lines long and include 5 things that they learned about in the unit so far. Recitals tomorrow, maybe an appearance on the student blog to kick start one of my resolutions for this year. Some of the class were also asking if they could play their forecasts for the class, so we'll see about that too. I think (hope) that the marking of past answers went well at supported study with Higher, and I see that again, one of you have edited the wiki. Can anyone add more to the answer? Or what about adding your own question, or using the student question and answer section to put a query out there? Had a bit of fun with a valid outcome with s4 today as we tried to think of examples of public health advertising to support the Heart Disease section of the course-examples of how people can be educated about the disease. Not quite Government backed, but I had forgotten about the 'Belly's gonna get you' Reebok advert! Lots of good examples, though, and shows the power of the box... Moving on tomorrow with Higher to Rural Geography. Gave the outlines today and will have to be brisk getting through this for prelim purposes, so I will put any valid links up here, as I'll have less time to use them in class.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Montserrat in the classroom and in real life

Categories: Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2, Development and Health
Thanks very much to littlemiss on the sln forum for this link, very convenient as we are doing Volcanoes with s2 at the moment, and I was going to try Noel Jenkins' Montserrat exercise today. Have been looking for something interactive to finish the unit, but the last activity we used was based around Mount Pinatubo, and felt this was very dated (more old videos!!) even although the materials were good. I think we'll keep checking in on events over the next few weeks as well.
I am trying very hard to push Higher through the Development and Health unit, and all we really have left to talk about is a case study of Primary Health Care. We have some information about the 'barefoot doctors' in the text books, and there are some OK links. Wikpedia has a fairly good page, and there is a slightly more negative and politicized, but still informative view here, which would be good for the failures of the campaign (complete with Billy Bragg style propaganda posters!). There is also some relevant information about the situation in China after the policy ceased, and this offers a favourable personal account from one of the people trained under the barefoot doctors scheme. Of course, there is always bitesize, and, hey, you can always test yourself after reading...
I'm going to put a couple of past papers out for your completion in period two of the double tomorrow, so for that reason , supported study will be a little more relaxed, with, as promised, some previous answers which we will try to mark. You will hopefully get an idea of how to structure the extended answers for this part of your paper.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Hard Work term...

Categories: Writing and Assessment, s1 and s2
Found this cartoon on a student union website (thanks ), and made me think of all the hard work required very early this term. s4 and s5/6 both have prelim exams very soon and s3 have the Physical Environments assessment this month, which means a lot of past paper work early in the term. Don't forget to check back through the blog, which you can search by category, or by month for any links which might be useful. I probably won't have time to do this tomorrow, but I have always found it very useful to look at past answers and allow students to mark these, while then giving the actual mark afterwards. We will definitely have a look at this at some point this week-might use the whiteboard, and save the screenshots. s3 will probably do a little walkabout talkabout, which is always a nice ice breaker after the holidays.
s2 have no assessment worries for a while yet, but are probably wondering where their videos are-scouts honour, they will be here soon! For the time being, Noel Jenkins has a nice volcanoes powerpoint, which we could perhaps use- although we don't go into quite as much detail as this, some of you will have picked up on the links from your movie research. Rob Chambers has also posted a mass of volcanoes information on his blog, which might come in handy. I think I also pick up an extra s1 class tomorrow, and its probably weather that we will be doing-A good week for this, as someone told me snow is forecast. Well, you can always hope...

George W Bush and the U.S.A.

Categories: Games and Quizzes Not really looking to make any political comment, so don't worry, but over the festive period, a relative asked me this question- What is the only U.S state which does not include any of the letters from George W Bush's name? ... Answers please, no atlases, it took me a wee while.